Untamed Land

Untamed Land
Untamed Land

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Top Ten New Birds, 2011

The list of my favorite new birds in 2011 is arbitrary, and based mostly on my sentimental opinions. The one that I anticipated seeing the most was the Great Blue Turaco. The first individuals that I saw were in a city park in Entebbe, Uganda on my first day in the country. We also saw Ross's, Black-billed, and White-crested Turacos. All of them new species. They complemented nicely the Knyshna, and Purple-crested Turacos that I saw the year before in South Africa. Turacos occur only in Africa.
Who would'nt be thrilled to see African Grey Parrots in their natural habitat? This one was in the Bigodi Wetlands, in western Uganda.
Whenever I travel to a good birding destination, there are always certain species that stand out, and I want to see them most of all. There are others, such as vagrants, that are so rare that I have no real hope of seeing them.
The Short-toed Snake Eagle, (now called Bedouin's Snake Eagle) is a species that was never even on my radar screen because it is a vagrant to Northern Uganda, and we did'nt even venture that far north. We saw this one in Murchison Falls National Park.
Another extremely rare vagrant that I never even anticipated seeing was this Egyptian Plover, also in Murchison. They are extinct in Egypt, and most of the rest of their traditional range.
Not all my new birds were in Uganda. I got three lifers in Alaska this year. The best was this Redwing in Seward in November. It is a European, or Eurasian vagrant. Another bird that I could never have anticipated seeing.
Over the years I have seen other European vagrants in Alaska. Great Spotted Woodpecker, Tufted Duck, Red-necked Stint, and Arctic Warbler which regularly breeds in a few select areas in Alaska. I have searched in vain for other vagrants that showed up in Anchorage, Siberian Accentor, Common Cuckoo,  Eurasian Widgeon, Common Gull, Ivory Gull, Slaty-backed Gull, and  others that I have no doubt forgotten.

Dusky Thrush was the Asian vagrant that I saw just a few days ago. Too bad I could'nt get a passable photo.
The primary target species for virtually every birder who goes to Uganda is the Shoebill. it can be reliably found nowhere else. Truly prehistoric in it's visage.
To me, the Black Bee-eater is the epitome of an exotic bird. I hardly dared to hope for this surreal species. What an incredible thrill it was, when Tom pointed this bird out in Bwindi Imperetrable Forest. Too bad I got such poor photos. I did my best to clean this image up a little in photo editing. We saw seven bee-eater species in Uganda.
Another gem that I first hoped to see in South Africa, but missed it. It was the first bird that I identified in Uganda. It turned out to be very common in many places there. The Scarlet-chested sunbird is certainly a great beauty. We saw a bounty of fourteen sunbird species in Uganda.
The elegant Lizard Buzzard was a raptor that I anticipated seeing first in South Africa, but I missed it there. I was happy to see them in Uganda. This individual was in Entebbe. We saw twenty two raptor species, not including vultures. This rounds out my top ten new birds for 2011. There are several runners-up that almost made the list.
Thayer's Gull was the first of my three Alaska lifers this year. I'm sure that I've seen them before, but they are easy to overlook.
Grey-crowned Cranes are another missed species from South Africa. They were fairly common in Uganda.
Abyssinian Ground Hornbill is one of nine species of hornbill that we saw in Uganda. It is by far the largest of the bunch.

African Finfoot is a rare bird that I never really had much hope of seeing. Another thrilling surprize.

The white-backed Night Heron is a bird that is even harder to find than the finfoot. We saw a pair of them in the same place as the finfoots, Lake Mburo. I saw many other incredible birds in Uganda. Use the search engine in this blog if you want to see more Uganda photos.


Steve's Bird Blog said...


That is an impressive list of beautiful birds. I have seen only two of the species you listed but unfortunately not in the wild. We stayed at a hotel in Maui years ago that had Crowned Cranes wandering the grounds they are my favorite Crane. Tracy Aviary here in Salt Lake have several Ground Hornbills I especially like their long expressive eyelashes.

Thanks for sharing

Derek Kverno said...

Outstanding photo of Egyptian Plover. You were very lucky, indeed!

parrot-grey said...

Thanks for this great article
How many African grey parrots are left in the world
The Congo grey parrot and Timneh parrot again cry for help. The illegal exploitation, which has long characterized this bird, seems to resurface again, Congo African Grey Parrot illicit traffic.

Grey parrots, in cages, waiting to be sold.